Recipe: Mozzarella en Carozza

December 20, 2014 Updated: December 20, 2014

Every antipasti platter should include at least one dive into decadence, and this recipe fills the bill in a big way—en carozza translates to “in carriage.” Our version elevates that basic idea, combining the cheese with roasted red pepper and anchovy for some additional flavor. But make no mistake: the cheese is the master of this creation. Allowed to cool for a few minutes, the individual sandwiches can be quartered into nearly bite-size portions.

Serves 4 to 6

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon chopped fresh basil
2 roasted red peppers, cut into 4 equal pieces
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh garlic
8 slices white bread, crusts removed
6 ounces whole-milk mozzarella cheese, sliced ¼ inch thick
4 anchovy fillets
8 whole fresh basil leaves
2 cups canola oil
4 extra-large eggs, beaten
1 tablespoon grated Romano cheese
1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Procedure
In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, chopped basil, roasted peppers, oregano, and garlic. Refrigerate, covered, for at least 1 hour (you can skip this step if you’re using premade roasted red peppers).

Top a piece of bread with a slice of mozzarella, an anchovy fillet, 1 piece of the roasted red pepper, and 2 basil leaves in that order. Cover with another slice of bread, and pinch the edges to enclose the fillings.

In a deep sauté pan or high-sided skillet over medium-high heat, heat the canola oil to approximately 325 F.

In a small bowl, combine the eggs, Romano cheese, and parsley. Dredge each of the sandwiches in the egg wash. Slide them into the hot oil and fry until the undersides are browned (you’ll need to hold each sandwich down slightly with a metal spatula while frying, to prevent the slices of bread from separating). Flip each sandwich and brown the other side.

Transfer the sandwiches to a paper towel—lined plate and allow to cool for several minutes. Serve while still warm, with a side of lemon butter or Carmine’s Marinara Sauce.

(From “Carmine’s Celebrates” (2014), St. Martin’s Press, $29.99)